Based on his experience as a teacher, Stephens describes his play as 'The History Boys on crack'. It explores the underlying tensions and potential violence in a group of affluent, articulate seventeen year old students. Contemporary and unnerving, with elements of The Catcher in the Rye, Punk Rock follows the story of seven sixth-formers as they face up to the pressures of teenage life, while preparing for their mock A-level exams and trying to get into Oxbridge. They are a group of educated, intelligent and aspirational young people but step-by-step, the dislocation, disjunction and latent violence simmering under the surface of prosperity is revealed.
Written in reaction to London crashing from the euphoria and promise at being awarded the 2012 Olympics into the chaos and reality of the 7/7 bombings, the play is composed of seven stories that serve as a countdown to the catastrophic attack on London. Each playlet focuses on a different individual dramatising their life in the run-up to the tragedy.
Published to coincide with the English language premiere at the Traverse Theatre in August as part of the International Edinburgh Festival before transferring to the Birmingham Rep, this is the first stage play to confront the London bombings of 7 July 2005.
'I don't blame the war. The war was alright. I miss it. It's just you come back to this.'
Written during the London bombings of 2005, Motortown is a fierce, violent and controversial response to the anti-war movement - and to the war itself. Chaotic and complex, powerful and provocative, Simon Stephen's new play portrays a volatile and morally insecure world.
Motortown premieres at the Royal Court Theatre on 21 April 2006. It follows the critically acclaimed On the Shore of the Wide World (Manchester Royal Exchange/National Theatre), winner of the Olivier Award for Best New Play (2005).
Simon Stephens Plays: 1 brings together four of the early plays from the winner of the 2002 Pearson Best New Play Award. Since Bluebird in 1998, Stephens has gained recognition for humane plays that display a sharp observation and compassionate response to the lives of ordinary people in urban locations.
Bluebird: Cabbie Jimmy overhears the weird, wonderful and violent tales of his passengers he confronts his past and his estranged wife. 'A rough gem of a play' - The Times
Christmas: One night in an East end pub, four men confront their past and brace themselves for an uncertain future. 'Beautifully crafted' - What's On
Herons: The disturbing story of one teenager on a violent estate in London, which saw Stephens nominated for an Olivier Award for Most Promising Playwright in 2001.
Port: One woman's struggle to cope with and finally escape her life in Stockport. (Winner of Pearson Award for Best New Play.)
'A brilliant writer of immense imagination with an acute observation of people's foibles' - Independent
Stockport 1988-2002. Racheal Keats is growing up in a town she doesn't like with a family in tatters and a future she cannot picture. As those she loves begin to let her down or leave her behind, can Rachel find the strength to make her own way in the world?
Port premiered at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, in November 2002. It was later staged in the Lyttelton at the National Theatre, opening in January 2013. Both productions were by Marianne Elliott.
One Minute, first produced in 2003 and revived in London in 2008, has an uncomfortable resonance as it follows five characters variously affected by the disappearance of Daisy, an 11-year-old girl, from Seven Dials, Covent Garden.
Country Music spotlights four fateful moments in the life of Jamie Carris during and after the prison sentences he has served for glassing one man and for killing another.
Motortown, written in response to the War on Terror, is a blistering account of a young soldier's return home from Basra to an England he no longer recognises or connects with.
Pornography captures Britain as it crashes from the euphoria and promise of the 2012 Olympics announcement into the devastation of the London bombings of 7/7.
The final play, Sea Wall, is a one-act monologue about grief, following the drowning of a young child.
Marine Parade is a musical about sex, betrayal and hope, set in a run-down B&B on Brighton's waterfront. A moving and poignant play, it 'captures the peculiar aroma of Brighton, with its mix of the bracing and the melancholy' (Guardian).
Olivier award-winning play On the Shore of the Wide World is an epic piece about love, family, Roy Keane and the size of the galaxy.
Punk Rock is based on Simon Stephens's experience as a teacher and he describes this play as 'The History Boys on crack'. It explores the underlying tensions and potential violence in a group of affluent, articulate seventeen year old students.
On a crisp winter day in New York, Willem gets the call. It's Mum. Pauli's died. Come back to Amsterdam.
An unforgettable homecoming to an estranged family, a lost love, unsettling sex and an unexamined life.
One of Stephens's most poetic plays to date, Song from Far Away received its UK premiere at the Young Vic, London, on 2 September 2015.
Set around Limehouse Cut and the Lee River in East London, Herons is the disturbing and moving story of fourteen-year-old Billy, whose life has been made a misery by his father's actions. As the teenagers that surround him on the estate step up their campaign of bullying, the play escalates to a violent climax.Commissioned by the Royal Court, Herons premiered there on 18 May 2001.
On a startlingly bright autumn night in 2006, Harper Regan walked away from her home, her husband and daughter, and kept walking. She told nobody that she was going. She told nobody where she was going. She put everything she ever built at risk. For two lost days and nights, until it looked as though her entire life might unravel, she didn't turn back.
From Uxbridge to Stockport to Manchester and back again, Harper Regan navigates the UK, exploring family, love and delusion. It received its world premiere at the National Theatre, London, in 2008.
In the opulent grandeur of a European city, a renowned singer abandons the opera house for the truth of the streets. A gorgeous prostitute. A tough-talking taxi driver. A global trader. A teenage dreamer. Everyone's looking for something.
Simon Stephens's strange and beautiful play re-imagines Bizet's opera Carmen and the possibility of love in a fractured urban world.
Carmen Disruption received its world premiere at the Deutsche Schauspielhaus, Hamburg, in March 2014 and its UK premiere at the Almeida Theatre on 10 April 2015.
A story of crime and redemption, starting at the mouth of the River Thames and moving across England over twenty years. It begins with a life choice for Jamie Carris and ends with a re-union with his young daughter. It is also a story about a killer.
A girl growing up in a battered part of Stockport in a battered time at the end of the Seventies falls in love with the man who will break her heart into a thousand pieces.
Blindsided is a surprising and romantic play about warped love, jealousy, and damaged lives, spanning from the beginnings of the Thatcher Government in 1979 to the birth of New Labour in 1997.
This edition features an introduction by Dr Jacqueline Bolton.
Set on the edges of Heathrow airport, Wastwater is an elliptical triptych - a snapshot of three different couples who make a choice that will define the fallout of their future.
Harry is on the point of leaving England and Frieda knows she will never see him again. Lisa and Mark are on the point of a sexual betrayal that takes them into a place darker than they ever thought possible. Sian has a terrifying deal for Jonathan and she isn't going to take no for an answer.
A reflective piece by a playwright at the height of his powers and career, Wastwater mimics the flexible and innovative form of Stephens's hit play Pornography with three overlapping, but detachable, parts which can be split and played in differing orders. The play contains Stephens's trademark combination of sensitive character depiction and tough confrontation with political choices. Wastwater is a meditative morality tale and a portrayal of modern-day relationships, formed and deformed by fatal decisions, inevitable consequences and fragile connections.
This volume also contains the monologue T5, which portrays a road trip below the heart of London and follows a darkly magical flight out of the edges of the 21st century.
Morning - a play for young people - is the latest offering from acclaimed playwright Simon Stephens, written after a workshop involving actors from the Young Company at the Lyric, Hammersmith and the Theater, Basel, Switzerland.
It's the end of summer in a small, claustrophobic town and two friends are about to go their separate ways: one to university; the other will be staying local. But no matter what separates them, they will always share one moment: a moment that changed them forever.
This dark coming-of-age play, to be performed by the Lyric Young Company, is a disturbing look at the cruel acts we are capable of committing; our society's numbness to physical pain; and the consequences of our actions.
This programme text will coincide with the Lyric's production of the play at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh as part of the Festival (2 - 22nd September) followed by a brief run at the Lyric Hammersmith, London in September.
"When you close your eyes and you think about your home, what do you think about?"
Robert Evans is new to the police force, and his enthusiasm for the case is keener than that of his cynical colleague Gary Burroughs. They're both looking for a missing child. But as the mother, Dr Anne Schults, wants to know, when does "missing" become "presumed dead"? Simon Stephens' new play is a disquieting portrait of the many lives that are united in the single moment it takes for a child to disappear.
Praise for Simon Stephens:
"A major new voice in British Theatre" - Scotsman; "Herons is filled with a sense of life's miraculous potential. It deals with damaged characters yet is imbued with a poetic lyricism" - Guardian
2014 was a year for Simon Stephens which featured a high number of world premiere plays including one for the theatre of his birthplace, Manchester's Royal Exchange, a major new play for the Downstairs space at London's Royal Court, and a Chekhov translation for London's Young Vic; a transfer of his West End hit The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time to Broadway; and projects in Germany, a country which has seen Stephens lauded, in which he has worked extensively, and which has shaped much of his dramaturgy. In addition to these major projects, Stephens continued his role as a mentor of young writers, actors and directors, and continued to be one of the most frequent, outspoken and fiercely intelligent voices of the playwriting scene.
In an exceptionally honest account, Simon Stephens opens up to us, through daily diary entries, his working practices, his inner-most thoughts, his philosophy on theatre, the arts and politics, and his feelings and reactions to specific projects he has worked on. Through this, we are given unprecedented access to the mind of one of the most important playwrights of the twenty-first century.
The last week of a massive international tour and rock star Paul is at the height of his fame. Everybody knows his name. Whatever he wants he can have. He can screw anybody he wants to. He can buy anything he desires. He can eat anything. Drink anything. Smoke anything. Go anywhere. As the inevitability of the end of the road looms closer and a return home becomes a reality, for Paul the music is starting to jar.
Birdland received its world premiere at the Royal Court Theatre Downstairs on 3 April 2014.
Simon Stephens's exciting new adaptation of the twentieth-century classic Kasimir and Karoline is a dark, political and hilarious play that sets two young lovers in the throes of a break-up against the hypnotic whirl and bright lights of a funfair.
The Funfair takes us on a ride through the loops, dips and highs of one night at a fairground, exploring a crisis of capitalism set to the soundtrack of a rock and roll love song.
The play received its world premiere at Manchester's Home Theatre on 14 May 2015 and was the theatre's first-ever production.
As the severed human head of an Estonian woman is found in a river in Hammersmith, two British detectives set off in search of her origins in Europe and how she came to be found dead. Accompanied by a mephistophelian German detective acting as their guide, they gradually sink deeper and deeper into the world of prostitution and international human trafficking. Fighting to cross international borders and language barriers, they enter a nightmarish world that will change one of them forever. Three Kingdoms tells the stories of trafficked women, the gangs and the police forces across Europe that attempt to control them.
This dark new thriller by Simon Stephens, set across three countries, explores an international business where the goods are not products, but people. Questioning and undermining not just tenets about the nature of Europe with its old and new borders, Three Kingdoms also explodes moral certainties. With good and evil presented not as polarised forces but as disturbingly shifting, overlapping and contradictory, the play provocatively unbalances convictions of truth, ethical codes, violence and justice.
This edition also includes a preface with contributions from playwright Simon Stephens, German director Sebastian Nuebling and Estonian dramaturg Eero Epner, discussing this uniquely collaborative and tri-lingual project.
Three Kingdoms was presented at Teater NO99 in Tallinn, Estonia on 17 September 2011, before opening at the Munich Kammerspiele, Germany, on 15 October 2011. 'An inconsolable mood of dread, abandon, violence and suspicion lurks beneath the show's skin of arty insouciance, and at times the script attains a lyrical pitch of accusation against the West that quite overrides the flippancy. There's something of value here.' Daily Telegraph;
The Trial of Ubu premiered at the Schauspielhaus Essen in a co-production with the Toneelgroep Amsterdam. 'The play certainly gets at the banality of evil, and evokes the slow, sometimes dull, often uncertain slog of justice.' Sunday Times.
Subtitled 'A Play For Young People', Morning was developed in partnership between the Lyric Hammersmith, London, and the Junges Theater, Göttingen. The Financial Times described it as 'theatrically daring and uncompromising';
Carmen Disruption, a reimagining of Bizet's opera, premiered at the Deutsche Spielhaus in spring, 2014, before its UK premiere at the Almeida, London, in April 2015. 'You can't help but be moved by the circumstances facing the five main characters. There's an understanding and a compassion amid the bleakness. And a fierce sense that something needs to change.' Guardian;
Set in January 2010, at the International Criminal Tribunal sitting in The Hague, it is day 436 of the trial of the dictator Ubu. Sitting before a UN constituted International Tribunal, he is charged with Crimes against Humanity and other serious violations of international humanitarian law.
Simon Stephens' virtuosic satire examines the often absurd legal wrangling of the international justice system. The Trial of Ubu is a savage comedy that interrogates the assumptions of a Court as it struggles to deal with defendants who are not only opposed to the morality of law, but exist in a different moral dimension altogether.
Exploring the central legitimacy and effectiveness of international law, Stephens asks how a civilised society can deal with the perpetrators of unspeakable crime, and wherein lies the legitimacy of any internationally convened tribunal. Taking a wry and intelligent look at the international courts when reduced to senseless and convoluted legal altercations, this funny yet unsettling play asks important questions about legal against moral justice, and the futility of reasoned argument in the presence of a heinous malefactor.
A Thousand Stars Explode in the Sky is a refreshingly subtle and compassionate vision of the world on the edge of apocalypse. Within a cosmological context, the focus is on a single family, their relations with each other and their unreconciled regrets, soon to become permanent. With an ensemble of strong, engaging characters, there are knotty, realistic family dynamics and a palimpsest of recent family history. The characters and dialogue are naturalistic but the serious themes are elucidated and alleviated with humour and quirky, surreal touches.
The play represents a unique collboration between three of the UK's pre-eminent stage writers. The ambition of the partnership is matched by the ambition of the play's sweeping scope. Whilst the three voices collide, they also ring out individually without sacrificing the piece's coherent wholeness, and the play represents a rare, fascinating study in stage collaboration.
The plays include modern reworkings of classics, such as Simon Reade's witty and brilliantly inventive adaptation of Lewis Carroll's much-loved fantasy, and DJ Britton's version of Sophocles' Theban plays, the tragic Oedipus/Antigone. Contemporary teenage issues are dealt with in Megan Barker's beautiful and uplifting Promise and Sarah May's The Butterfly Club. Simon Stephens' hit-play Punk Rock set in a grammar school explores dislocation and aggression among sixth form pupils; James Graham's Tory Boyz is a fast-paced, political comedy about prejudice and ambition in Westminster.
Each play features production notes and the volume is introduced by Paul Roseby, Artistic Director of the National Youth Theatre. For schools, youth theatre groups and drama colleges this anthology of thematically and stylistically diverse plays will prove an invaluable resource.